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Daddy Drama

Daddy Drama


In Maggie Quale's latest column on her journey to parenthood, she and her partner ponder potential paternal problems.

As queers, we're expert at redefining our identities. Lately, as Kim and I have been moving closer to our baby bliss, I've been contemplating how much our parents form our identities. In the twisty road from adolescent to adult, with all the thousands of big and little moments piled up, how much do our parents really shape who we are?

These questions bubbled up when Kim and I decided to learn more about our potential donors. We definitely wanted only donors who were willing to be known when the child reached 18, but beyond that, we had dozens of questions to obsess over before we settled on our final choice. To help decide, we purchased the long profiles and childhood photos of our top picks. I had this idea that reading their responses and seeing their photos would somehow act as a seminal force that would reveal which donor was "our donor." No such luck.

I searched the faces of these 2- and 3-year-old boys for some glimmer of fate in their eyes, behind their smiles, anywhere. I expected a lightning bolt of knowing to hit me, the same way it did the first moment I saw Kim as a stranger years ago. I expected a spiritual "a-ha!" moment that said "This is the one you've been searching for...this is your future." Instead, I studied photographs of some rather unremarkable children and felt little more than a mixture of ambivalence and uncertainty. They were all strangers to me.

Then the rational part of my brain took over. Perhaps Mr. Right would reveal himself through the words of these strangers instead of their images. So I scanned the long profiles for the same sense of recognition that eluded me earlier. I reviewed their medical histories, family structures, and hobbies, returning again and again to the proverbial question "Why did you decide to become a donor?"

As much as I hoped to find some transcendent reply that would bond me to one over another, I didn't. Sure, there was one guy who voted himself out with his two-word retort claiming "personal satisfaction" as a motive. A couple donors spoke of their desires to bring the joy of family to others less fortunate, but I still felt unsure. That's when it hit me: I wasn't looking for a donor; I was screening candidates for the best father!

These guys aren't applying to become dads; they're simply being paid for a service, a biological process, that for them ceases when they walk out of the clinic doors. They have no legal, financial, or personal role in the process. Kim and I will be the parents of our new child, not any of the donors. So why subject ourselves to the agony of choosing the right donor when there is no such thing?

I've sat on this column for the past week wondering how I would tie my feelings up. I hoped I'd settle into some profound understanding about how an absent biological parent forms our identities, but I haven't. The fact is that our child will have big questions. Sure, he or she will have two loving parents dedicated to their happiness, but that doesn't mean they won't wonder about their father. So I will keep the baby photo and 15-page profile we've agonized over because one day it will be time to pass it along to another pair of curious eyes. Whether it's from that picture or some hero constructed in the trees of their imagination, our child will start to fashion their own sense of identity. And perhaps some day a certain stranger might just get a surprise call from an 18-year-old kid with as many questions as we had two decades before.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Maggie Quale